For years under Harry Hiestand it became common place for Notre Dame land elite offensive line prospect after elite offensive line prospect. Over his last couple of recruiting hauls as Notre Dame’s offensive line coach though, the long time line coach became more selective and the Irish offensive line classes lost a bit of their luster. When Jeff Quinn was named his replacement last January, the one concern of Quinn was whether or not he could recruit elite talent. Quinn put the rest any notion of that early on and delivered one of Notre Dame’s best offensive line hauls in years.
Notre Dame will sign four offensive linemen today, three of whom are consensus 4-star prospects. Zeke Correll, John Olmstead, and Quinn Carroll are all 4-star recruits across the board. The 4th, Andrew Kristofic, might just have the highest ceiling of the group. While Kristofic might not be a consensus 4-star prospect, the high school teammate of Phil Jurkovec still ranks as a composite 4-star on 247 Sports with only Rivals ranking him as a 3-star.
Speaking of the 247 Rankings, the lowest composite overall ranking for any of the four is Kristofic’s 229.
- Quinn Carroll – #108 overall, #12 OT
- Zeke Correll – #119 overall, #7 OG
- John Olmstead – #180 overall, #19 OT
- Andrew Kristofic – #229 overall, #21 OT
That’s four offensive linemen in one class all of whom rank among the best 229 overall prospects in the entire country. In the four man offensive line class of 2018, none of the quartet ranked higher than #396 overall (Jarrett Patterson). In 2017, Notre Dame only signed two offensive linemen ranked similarly to the group they are signing today (Josh Lugg and Robert Hainsey). That’s double the number of top 250 OL recruits this year than in the previous two seasons combined.
So yeah, I think we can all forget about any questions regarding Jeff Quinn’s ability to recruit.
Now this is NOT to say that Hiestand was a bad recruiter. In fact, he was one of the best offensive line recruiters at Notre Dame since the days of Lou Holtz. Towards the end of his tenure at Notre Dame though, the results fell off from the ridiculously high standard he had set. For as good as he was at it during his tenure, Hiestand hated that aspect of the job. He just wanted to coach and that is why is now coaching the offensive line for the Chicago Bears in the NFL.
This is more to say what a fantastic job that Jeff Quinn did in his first year on the job on the recruiting trail. Much like Hiestand early on, Quinn went up against this big boys and won to haul in this class.
Jeff Quinn plucked Zeke Correll out of Ohio under the nose of Urban Meyer. Notre Dame also beat Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Penn State, and Stanford for his signature today.
John Olmstead picked up offers from LSU, Penn State, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan, and Florida State before he selected Notre Dame.
Kristofic, the only guy not to be a 4-star on Rivals? He had offers from Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and Michigan.
That’s four offensive linemen all of whom could have played for just about any elite program in the country – including Michigan. Let’s not overlook the fact that all four composite 4-star linemen that Notre Dame is signing today all had offers from Michigan. Just another way in which Notre Dame has beaten Michigan this year.
Back to my point about all four being able to virtually play wherever they wanted. All of them will be playing for Notre Dame next fall. Better yet, all four of them will be enrolling early and going through the off-season conditioning program with Matt Balis and spring practice with the team.
During one of his press conferences leading up to the Cotton Bowl, Brian Kelly mentioned that Aaron Banks was able to step in as a sophomore to help stabilize the Notre Dame offensive line in part because he was an early enrollee and got that jump start on his career. All four of these highly rated offensive line prospect will be doing the same starting next month.
For Notre Dame to be able to build off its run to the playoffs this year, it will need to consistently produce elite offensive lines to do so. Four of the five starting linemen that will start the Cotton Bowl return next year to build on the progress the line made this year. Adding four more offensive linemen to a deep depth chart will help give Notre Dame the kind of stability it needs to continue to produce elite offensive lines year after year.
Jeff Quinn’s first year on the field may have had some mixed results as he had to replace Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, but there is no question at all about his first year of results on the recruiting trail. He absolutely hit a home run and there is is no doubt about that whatsoever. As the major services release their best classes at each position, don’t be surprised at all to see the group of linemen ranked among the best – if not the best – in the country.